In one of its most craven moves to date, the Center for Food Safety is using a Hawaii pesticide complaint for a fundraising campaign.
The group’s email solicitation raises questions about whether the complaint is legit, or orchestrated to give CFS a platform to keep slamming Hawaii’s seed companies after the group failed to achieve victories in either the courts or the state Legislature.
On May 12, former DuPont-Pioneer worker Shannell Grilho filed suit against the company, claiming she was fired in December 2015 after complaining about herbicide use on its Waialua seed farm and the supposed “whistle blower” retaliation that followed. Her husband’s job was terminated a month later.
Anita Hofschneider reported on the lawsuit Monday morning for Pierre Omidyar’s vanity press, Civil Beat. Omidyar has donated money to CFS, and Hofschneider and other Civil Beat reporters have written numerous articles favorable to the group. Civil Beat’s editorial board, of which Omidyar is a member, also published an editorial calling for heightened agricultural pesticide restrictions just hours before CFS and other anti-GMO groups staged a press conference demanding that Gov. Ige adopt the very same controls that Civil Beat endorsed.
In covering the pesticide complaint story, Hofschneider wrote:
The suit could fuel concerns about the seed industry’s use of pesticides on genetically modified crops and their potential effects on public health and the environment.
Oh, how handy for the anti-GMO activists. And how curious that Grilho was fired nearly 18 months ago, but only now brings suit — just one month after the antis failed to convince the Hawaii Legislature to impose any new restrictions on the seed industry. Their failure was amplified by the fact that a federal appeals court earlier had ruled that state law pre-empted the ability of activists to impose restrictions on the seed companies at the county level, requiring them to instead seek remedies through the Legislature.
Grilho’s attorney is Michael Green, who admittedly seeks high profile cases to keep building his business and brags about defending street gangs, organized crime figures, high-profile drug dealers, disgraced politicians, bad cops and other pillars of society.
In any case, CFS wasted no time in capitalizing on Anita’s story. Within a few hours, it had sent out an email blast with this breathless assertion:
It’s all over the news [only Civil Beat had reported on it at that point], and it’s serious: An Oʻahu woman has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, DuPont Pioneer, stating she was retaliated against after reporting misuse of pesticides on the company’s North Shore field test site.
According to Civil Beat, Shannell Grilho’s supervisor ordered her to remain working in close proximity to a pesticide application site, despite the safety regulations listed on the label. As a result, she was “exposed to considerable amounts of air-born herbicide that covered her clothes, skin, eyes, and face, and which she ingested and inhaled.”
CFS then makes like the allegations are fact, and it is in the position to “protect people like Shannel,” who are already well-protected by the very laws cited in the complaint:
The flagrant disregard displayed by DuPont in this case is sadly not new – and it’s exactly why Hawaiʻi CFS is fighting so hard to force chemical companies to disclose the pesticides they spray, and when they spray them. But we can’t do it without your help. Help us fight back today.
It then linked to a page where donations could be made, before making this bizarre claim:
Biotech corporations operating in Hawaiʻi think they can get away with this behavior because they are not required to disclose the amounts and types of chemicals they spray. It’s clear that the current voluntary programs do not work, but our legislators have been unwilling to pass any legislation to regulate these operations.
Huh? Grilho’s complaint, even if it’s upheld, has absolutely nothing to with the sort of broad, public pesticide disclosure that CFS has been seeking. Everything that Grilho alleges is already covered under federal and state pesticide and worker safety laws. CFS and its agenda are totally irrelevant, in terms of protecting workers from experiencing what Grilho claims happened to her.
In short, CFS is just being opportunistic. Or more likely, given its past unscrupulous behavior, it’s being opportunistic and collaborative, working with Grilho and Civil Beat to keep up the unceasing attack against the seed companies when it’s otherwise run out of ammunition.